The High Life
The Tschuggen Grand, Arosa
What: Sitting at 1,175 metres above sea level, just five minutes from the popular resort of Swiss resort of Arosa, the Tschuggen Grand boasts its own private mountain railway to whisk guests from their sleep to the slopes in a matter of minutes – with a vast 225km of mountains and ski slopes to explore right on the doorstep.
Why: If the fresh mountain air and outdoor activities aren’t enough to recharge your mind (and body), then there’s a mammoth 5,000 square foot spa, one of the most impressive in Europe, with a series of indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and a whole floor (there are four in total) devoted simply to steam rooms and a sauna. Stunningly huge, sail-style sky lights flood the downstairs gym and meditation room with light, while a total of 12 treatment rooms and two private spa suites are where you’ll find a heady mix of restorative beauty treatments.
Rooms here are spacious, and the large beds are worthy of mention as an added bonus as you try to to recharge your batteries. The service is super-friendly – a distinct advantage when you want to just chill out – and the public rooms have open fires and plenty of space to hide away in. The four onsite restaurants offer very different dining options. The intimate Michelin-starred La Vetta’s innovative menu is the choice for a special occasion. The Grand is a formal, fine-dining affair but there’s also the choice of the sprawling sun terrace – perfect for lunch – or the wood-lined, log-festooned Basement, where you’ll can fulfill all your fast food fantasies, including traditional fondue, before you hit the hotel’s bowling alley. Every outlet at the hotel offers clean eating options and the spa has its own lounge where you can continue your health kick with a specially designed, health-focused menu.
The Kasbah, Marrakesh
What: Searching for some answers to life’s big questions, or simply wanting to find the mechanism which will help you declutter and de-stress? A mindfulness retreat in beautiful Morocco, surrounded by stunning Moorish architecture and with mouth-watering Morrocan food may just be the key to your wellbeing.
Why: At the foot of the Atlas Mountains, and in true Berber style, this retreat offers a unique blend of yoga, meditation, crystal sound bowl healing and (optional) running. Begin your day with morning yoga in the retreat’s panoramic glass tent, before basking beside the pool. Take a walk through the beautiful gardens, or relax with a book on one of the many terraces before undergoing sound healing beside a crackling fire, or a steamy hammam scrub in the spa before dinner. Sleep and repeat.
Rooms here are tucked away amongst the ancient rose and fruit gardens with heady views of the Atlas Mountains. All are ensuite, and although rustic in nature, they all have lots of little extras which help to make your stay a special one. The food here is prepared onsite, using fruit and vegetables from the garden and you dine under Olive trees, or in one of the Kasbah’s several dining areas. It’s all about rediscovering a balance, and finding a sense of happiness here, and who can fail to fall in love with the ethos of this place? Learn the practice of sitting and walking meditation, practice yin and hatha yoga and explore the extraordinarily soothing properties of crystal sound healing as you learn to reconnect in this friendly and super-supportive environment under expert guidance.
Getting Off Grid
Arctic Bath Hotel, Harads
What: Need a digital detox? In need of getting back to nature? Want to be at one with the elements? This extraordinary floating hotel and spa, inspired by Sweden’s age-old timber industry, where trees felled were then floated down river for processing, consists of six floating and six land-based cabins.
Why: The main circular building houses a spa treatment room, four saunas, an outside cold bath, a hot bath and indoor and outdoor showers. The large central patio invites guests to sun bathe, ice bathe or simply sit back and admire the vast star-filled skies, and there’s always the opportunity to glimpse the elusive Northern Lights.
It is all about getting back to nature here and although you sleep indoors (the cabins incorporate sustainable and natural materials with luxurious textiles and simple Scandinavian style) the great outdoors is where it’s at. The floating cabins are connected to the land by walkways and the larger, land-based cabins include the ‘double-decker’ – elevated on poles, situated on the shoreline, and with a large deck ideal for meditation, morning coffee or just relaxing. The benefits of cold water therapy are many, and can only be enhanced when experienced under a starlit sky. Alongside the heat and ice therapies, you can book into the hotel’s mini-spa for individual treatments with their certified therapists. The restaurant serves carefully-planned set menus, inspired by the hotel’s natural surroundings, and with wellness very much in mind. There’s a hand-picked selection of handcrafted beer, wines and special smoothies too. Whilst this special place is very much about getting off grid, the hotel does offer activities which include a husky sled ride through untouched snow, a sleddog tour, ice fishing and the opportunity to experience the majestic frozen river landscape of Storforsen Natur Reserve.
Health by Stealth
SHA Wellness, Alicante
What: Set up by Alfredo Bataller Parietti who, after years of battling cancer, saw his illness disappear when he switched to a Japanese-inspired macrobiotic diet, SHA fuses the best of Eastern and Western approaches to health and wellbeing to balance mind, body and soul.
Why: No dairy, no meat, no caffeine, and definitely no alcohol, you will be served a delicious series of vegetables, fruit, seaweed, nuts and seeds in the form of chia porridge, miso soup, udon noodles and lentil burgers during your stay, and of course, you’re encouraged to continue the regime after you leave. The restaurant opens for just three meals a day so, with no snacking available, it is easy to stick to exactly what you are supposed to eat.
But it is not just about diet here. Massages, acupuncture, colonics and therapy sessions all ensure you leave feeling lighter, brighter and noticeably better. It’s all helped by the beautiful mountainside setting, with views of the Mediterranean and the Sierra Helada Natural Park, and the luxurious tropical gardens, zen relaxation areas and swimming pools which make SHA far more like a five-star hotel than a pioneering wellness clinic. Each spa suite has its own spacious terrace and access to the spa’s wellness area, infinity pool, wet zone with pebbles bath, hydro-massage pool, caldarium and floatarium. Book into activities including cookery lessons so you can continue all the good work at home.
The Silent Treatment
What: In a world where there are so many demands on our time and attention, this silent retreat offers a precious opportunity to experience silence and stillness in a controlled and supportive environment.
Why: Aimed at those who already have prior experience of a retreat, this is perfect for anyone in need of real rest and replenishment. Silent retreats help you reconnect with nature – and yourself. It’s a chance to turn inward and let go of daily struggles which so often get in the way of the freedom and joy to be found in the present moment. Spending extended periods of time in silence, surrounded by others, can feel awkward, or even challenging, however most participants quickly discover a deep sense of calm and connection.
The retreat does not stay in total silence for the whole five days you are there. Each morning there is the chance to catch-up with your fellow guests and share group sessions on mindfulness, but meal times and all other group activities are completed in silence. The benefits of practicing silence include the ability to improve meditation, reconnecting with nature and your own senses and developing a stronger sense of self and creativity. Based in a Grade I-listed Georgian house on the Sharpham estate, the Sharpham Five Night Silent Retreat is on a full-board basis, and the food here is delicious; home-cooked vegetarian produce sourced from the surrounding estate. There is a maximum of 32 allowed on a retreat giving plenty of opportunity for special smaller mindfulness sessions, group and individual meditation and silent walks whilst also learning to live in a community with like-minded individuals, all determined to seek solace, rest and recuperation from the silence.